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December 24, 2008 11:35 AM   Subscribe

What e-mail address format is most professional?

I'm leaving school soon, beginning to job search, and am overdue (10+ years) for a change of e-mail address, and would like your ideas on what formats are more "professional" looking. This e-mail account would be used for both personal contacts and for sending out resumes and other job searching stuff, and I'm hoping to go another 10+ years without a change. I have an unusual first and last name, so I have a number of options when it comes to the freedom to register new addresses.

I'm deciding between the following:

firstsyllableoffirstnamefirstsyllableoflastname@gmail.com (this, I have been told, is easy to remember - but coming from people I already know well) - this was my moniker at my previous Yahoo address, so it would be easier for old contacts to switch to.

What "looks best?" With both a first and last name that most people have never heard of, what would be simpler and easier to remember? Am I over thinking this?
posted by raztaj to Computers & Internet (46 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you in the US? If so, firstname.lastname@gmail.com.
posted by Nelson at 11:38 AM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I go by lastname.firstname@gmail.com, which looks nice to me.
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 AM on December 24, 2008

If you're actually talking about gmail, you may have limited choice in the matter especially if your name is common.

If you're just using it as an example, I'd suggest getting your own domain name and just using your first name as the address. This makes it very simple to communicate the address verbally to someone, which I find can be particularly confusing in the case of names with dots, or initials, or in cases with odd spelling.

In my case I apparently went too far into the "should be easy to understand verbally" territory with simplykiwi because, though it certainly is identifiable in the radio-alphabet sense, it's apparently so odd a combination that people assume they heard me incorrectly.
posted by odinsdream at 11:41 AM on December 24, 2008

I think you might be over thinking this. Why not of for firstname.lastname@gmail.com? Isn't that the most obvious solution? Seriously, as long as it's some combination of your name and not bigschlong5@ or ilikebigboobies@ then its fine and looks professional, people don't spend that long thinking about email addresses. Alternatively you could sign up for some cheap webhosting and have firstname@firstnamelastname.com, that's what some people do without ever having a website.
posted by ob at 11:41 AM on December 24, 2008

firstname.lastname@ seems to be the standard. I do it without the dot.
posted by nitsuj at 11:41 AM on December 24, 2008

When I see an email that should be in a professional format I like to see some form of firstname.lastname or partfirstname or initial.lastname -- I just want to see that the person knows enough that the email should be easily identifiable as said person -- if you have a long first or last name, do use initial or syllable.

For me, as long as you know enough to not use something silly (like workergoofball@) I'm fine.

I've found even among my friends that people vary greatly on this, so use what you're comfy with -- fit is very important.
posted by cestmoi15 at 11:43 AM on December 24, 2008

My resume e-mail is lastname.firstname@gmail.com. I did that because the firstname.lastname version was taken, but have been told by a few folks that they find the lastname first version easier to remember. US, for what it is worth.

If you use gmail, you can have more than one, then send them all to one e-mail address. I have two gmail addresses, one of which is my old Internet nick, which my friends expect.
posted by QIbHom at 11:43 AM on December 24, 2008

I wish I could get a firstname.lastname address or even lastname.firstname. In your case however, you might consider that oral communication of this address will sometimes be necessary. Is one of the names more readily spelled than the other? If so I would consider replacing one of the names with an initial.
posted by grouse at 11:46 AM on December 24, 2008

Professionally, first name last name or first initial last name are the way to go.

Whatever you do, I would recommend signing up for all those permutations you mentioned just to have them. You can set all of them to forward to your main account, whatever you decide that will be.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:46 AM on December 24, 2008


My personal gmail is like this and my workplace formats our email addresses this way as well.
posted by fructose at 11:47 AM on December 24, 2008

You are overthinking this. Or at least overworrying.

I would go with either of firstnamelastname or lastnamefirstname, and the initialisms would work acceptably. The syllabic conditionally is fine depending on your name - I would be AarMin, and that clearly doesn't work. But someone like ErMar would work fine.

Have you thought about registering your own domain name? You have an unusual last name, so it might still be vacant, and I find firstname@lastname.com looks very professional. It'll cost money, about $7/year, but you'll also get a variety of email addresses, so you can have firstname@ for your work, nickname@ for your friends, spambot@ for places that need registration.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:48 AM on December 24, 2008

FWIW, gmail ignores the period so firstname.lastname and firstnamelastname are actually the same email address (and so is fi.rstna.me.lastn.ame, etc.).

I would actually suggest getting your own domain name and using google apps (so you get gmail with your own domain name). Then you can use me@firstnamelastname or firstname@firstnamelastname or something of the sort. Then you'll have one email address that you can use for the rest of your life, even if google makes changes you hate and you move to another email provider, or microsoft buys google and changes all the email addresses from @gmail.com to @msmail.com or something like that.
posted by winston at 11:52 AM on December 24, 2008

I also recommend getting your own domain. It's inexpensive, and you never have to change it. Obviously, getting the name you want, or one that will work for you long term is the tricky part.

I use firstname@firstnamelastname.com. The good thing is, I can tell people "If you know my name, you know my email.

I also use an address for my freelance business which is firstname@businessname.com.

Both of these addresses forward to gmail, because it's convenient. Even though I never really give out my gmail address, I do use first.last@gmail.com.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:54 AM on December 24, 2008

I've had my own domain name for 12+ years and it's been great, esp. since I switched to Google Apps for Domains earlier this year.

Also, you're totally overthinking@plateofbeans.com.
posted by mkultra at 11:59 AM on December 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

For what it's worth, you aren't the only person to spend much time thinking about such matters, and I'm not convinced that it's overthinking.
posted by grouse at 12:01 PM on December 24, 2008

My first name is common, but has many spelling variations, and my last name is uncommon, but composed of two very common English words, so I go with firstinitiallastname.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 12:01 PM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I recently got this email offer from my university; yours may have a similar service.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:06 PM on December 24, 2008

firstname.lastname@ seems to be the standard. I do it without the dot.

Just fyi, on google the dot doesn't matter (goes to the same place with or without it).

I personally prefer firstinitallastname@gmail.
posted by inigo2 at 12:08 PM on December 24, 2008

Google Apps For Your Domain makes having a personalized email completely painless for $10/year. Good luck getting lastname.com unless yours is pretty unique -- some sleazy-looking company called netidentity bought mine and wants to "rent" me an email address at it.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:11 PM on December 24, 2008

If you're this worried about it (and I would be the kind of person who would be as well), get a real domain and don't use an @gmail.com address.
posted by thebabelfish at 12:21 PM on December 24, 2008

Pretty much any address with your first name and last name will be fine. I use my middle initial like homerjsimpson@gmail.com.
posted by rhizome at 12:37 PM on December 24, 2008

You say your name is unusual. Is it really long? I know an Indian man whose last name is something like 20 letters, and when deciding on a company email address for him, they just used his nickname and lastname initial. Unfortunately, if you're not Western and you're doing business with Westerners, it behooves you to make it easy for them. If my assumption is correct, I'm sure you're well aware that many people don't deal well with long names that aren't of European origin.
posted by desjardins at 12:40 PM on December 24, 2008

Fourthing getting your own domain name and using that. You'll avoid having to say 'dot' in the middle of the first part of the name, but more importantly:

You won't be tied to Google forever. AOL used to seem like a good, permanent, large company. Now I know people who feel they have to maintain their AOL accounts even though they really don't use them for anything but routing their e-mail. It's costly, plus it makes them look a little... behind the times, or else like someone's Mom who signed up with AOL because it seemed easiest at the time.

You can keep your domain name for the rest of your life, if you want, and you might even end up setting up a web site someday -- who knows?

Posting your resume to your own web site domain would be very nice and very polished. However, just starting with the e-mail address is quite simple (no need to use Google Apps. Really, Google's not the only game out there).

Domain names aren't that expensive, and you can use your domain name with any hosting provider, changing whenever the current provider no longer suits (or starts taking advantage of it's huge market share, or starts charging too much money, or changes its privacy policy to something draconian, or insists on putting advertising in correspondence to your business contacts).
posted by amtho at 12:44 PM on December 24, 2008

Any chance your first or last names are so unusual that they might be available independently? Cuz firstname@gmail.com or lastname@gmail.com would trump the options you've listed.
posted by junesix at 12:51 PM on December 24, 2008

I don't have a suggestion about which looks most professional, but I would really recommend just signing up for all of them and forwarding them to the one you choose to be your main one. This way in case you ever choose to change, you have all your options there.
posted by majikstreet at 12:52 PM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you use firstname.lastname (or the reverse) will people know which name is which? Because I find that because these crazy Americans have taken to using names that are properly surnames as given names all the time, people always end up addressing me by my surname, which makes me think I'm at boarding school and due for a thrashing.
By which I mean to say: if there's any possibility that people you're corresponding with might not know which name is which, first-initial.lastname is best.
posted by nowonmai at 1:00 PM on December 24, 2008

My preference: firstinitiallastname@gmail.com
Firstname.Lastname@gmail.com translates to lastname@gmail.com, which may not be available.
posted by theora55 at 1:03 PM on December 24, 2008

I agree that you're definitely overthinking it, and any of the iterations you've listed will be fine. However, if your combined firstnamelastname is over about 15 letters or so, you might want to abbreviate one of them with an initial just to make things easier on yourself and others who have to spell it.
posted by booknerd at 1:10 PM on December 24, 2008

The best-looking thing you could do would be firstname@lastname.com, but of course that might not be available for you.

Otherwise, all of your suggested options look fine to me, and I'd guess that firstname.lastname@gmail.com is the most "standard".

But really, all your options there were very safe, tame, normal, "professional", and fine.
posted by rokusan at 1:13 PM on December 24, 2008

Here's one more longevity vote for getting your own domain. Google might not stay around forever, or it might become "lower" class to have a gmail address, just like hotmail is today. Google are hot today, but nobody knows how the landscape looks in 5-10 years.

And a professional vote for your own domain. If you put up a (very) simple webpage (doesn't need to be a full site) with the basic information about you, then you're way beyond a @gmail.com address.
posted by flif at 1:22 PM on December 24, 2008

take both, no matter which name you put first. have one forward to the other.

free, and if someone makes a mistake you get it anyway.
posted by Izzmeister at 1:24 PM on December 24, 2008

Firstname.Lastname@gmail.com translates to lastname@gmail.com, which may not be available.

I don't think this is true.
posted by inigo2 at 1:31 PM on December 24, 2008

Firstname.Lastname@gmail.com translates to lastname@gmail.com, which may not be available.

I don't think this is true.

It is indeed untrue. Firstname.Lastname@gmail.com translates to FirstnameLastname@gmail.com (or even Fir.s.tna.mel.astn.a.m.e@gmail.com, as winston noted)
posted by quarantine at 2:33 PM on December 24, 2008

FWIW--my son just got chewed from his college counselor for having his whole name (with middle initial) in his e-mail address. Said it's giving out too much info. for potential identity theft. Just saying . . .
posted by 6:1 at 2:39 PM on December 24, 2008

6:1, it's incorrect to assume that because someone knows your name that they can steal your identity. That college counselor just doesn't know what they're talking about.
posted by odinsdream at 3:39 PM on December 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

this has got me thinking...my email address is awful and has numbers (birthday actually) in..

i have a common name, pretty much all variations on .com domains and gmail accounts have been snapped up.

What do i do? I'd love to get a firstinitial.lastname@domain.com or firstname.lastname@domain.com type email adress

is there a way of buying back the domain with my name on? i see that it's been registered till 2010.
posted by ashaw at 3:59 PM on December 24, 2008

posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:20 PM on December 24, 2008

I do firstname.lastname@gmail for "bizness" email (my personal account is different and is immensely emo). Whatever format I use, I have to spell it all out anyway. I have one of THOSE names. If your name is uncommon and you also have to spell it all the time, it really doesn't matter because you're going to spend five minutes spelling it. The dot is not going to be what confuses people, it's going to be that silent Q.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:07 PM on December 24, 2008

Pshh...Give me the silent Q over having your name ending with every number from 0-50 taken up!


I think thats the best, short, straight to the point, memorable
posted by ashaw at 5:16 PM on December 24, 2008

I have a difficult to spell first name, so I did firstinitialmiddleinitiallastname. It turns out to be short and easy to remember and to say out loud. Try the different options and see which one rolls off the tongue?
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:41 PM on December 24, 2008

Recent college grad here-- I'm young enough to know the problem you're struggling with, and old enough (ugh) to have seen many, many professional email addresses.

Here's what you're missing: Gmail is not a professional email domain. Once you get to college, your school email will be your professional email, as a university address will always be more legitimate than any free gmail account. After that, your work email address will be more legitimate.

BTW: my name is super common AND long (thanks, Dad) so I ended up going with firstsyllableoffirstname.firstsyllableoflastname@gmail.com. It's easy to understand over the phone, it's still clearly my name (particularly because my first syllable is the nickname that ~50% of people call me). If this is something you like, I encourage it... I've had great success with the email over the years.
posted by samthemander at 6:28 PM on December 24, 2008

Thanks for all the suggestions! Despite the different ideas, additional thoughts and preferences have been immensely helpful and interesting to read.

I may sign up for a domain name - both firstname.com and lastname.com are sadly taken, but firstlast.com are not. I'll be eligible to have an alumni e-mail address from my university, but I'm not sure if I want to use that consistently for professional contact, and definitely not personal stuff (once I get a job, my work e-mail address would hopefully take care of this).

I really like firstsyllableoffirstnamelastsyllableoflastname@ (which is also my Mefi moniker), because it's easy, and generally rolls off the tongue. The first syllable is what friends call me, and the last syllable is easy, because I just tell people "Taj, like Taj Mahal," and they can spell it out on their own. It's generally an easy to communicate e-mail address, but I thought perhaps a tad bit too casual. My first name is not long (5 letters), and last name is about average (8 letters). I really wanted to have an e-mail address that's just my first name - but gmail requires a minimum of 6 letters!

lastname@gmail.com is taken by my brother, unfortunately. Until I register a domain, I'll probably use the widely recommended firstname.lastname@gmail.com, and forward firstsyllableoffirstnamelastsyllableoflastname@ to that account - because it'll be a smooth transition for friends.

Thanks again for all the thoughts and suggestions, and the reminders about gmail's fallibility. I know it's not really a "professional" service, but I really want just one address that I can use for pretty much all electronic communication in this in-school-but-not-yet-employed liminal stage. For now...!
posted by raztaj at 7:16 PM on December 24, 2008

As someone who owns firstnamelastname.com, I am extremely happy. People usually find it is really cool that I own the name, especially since I deal with people who aren't likely to own domain names.
posted by toaster at 8:12 AM on December 25, 2008

I just wanted to chime in with a "good for you" for making sure you have a "professional" email address for resumes and such. I have a good friend who works in our HR Department and often gives presentations at career fairs, high schools, technical colleges, etc. and she always tells them: "I don't care how cute you think babygirl143@yahoo.com sounds, you need to get a professional-sounding email address!"

I think trying to get both would be the best idea. I would use the firstname.lastname@ to put on resumes, business cards, etc., when you need to sound very professional, but having firlas@ is good for giving out over the phone, to friends, etc. I knew a girl whose name was something like Cassandra Burkett and her email was casbur@.

And I think Gmail is a fine domain to use.
posted by radioamy at 9:37 AM on December 25, 2008

radioamy, be sure to ask yourself in 7 years whether gmail is a fine domain to use, or whether it even exists any more.

The advantage to getting your own domain name is that you can use gmail to work with it (through Google Apps) for as long as it's useful, then move to something else in the future without needing to tell everyone a new address.

Maintaining a domain name without a website is a very low-cost investment that will definitely make it easier to move through services in the future.
posted by odinsdream at 9:49 AM on December 25, 2008

You say you want to have personal mail go to work when you get a work email. Be careful, most companies have the right to read your email. Fine for now and again, hey let's get together after work stuff, but I maintain a gmail addy for the often needed "help -- my coworkers are nuts" stuff that HR should NOT read.
posted by cestmoi15 at 4:10 PM on December 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

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